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Mull Historical Society

XL Recordings

Colin MacIntyre of Mull Historical Society wants you to know there’s more to the west of Scotland than “big sheep, thick beards, sturdy walking boots, misty rain, men painting boats, women called Morag and, of course, folk dancing in clothing made entirely of natural fibres.” And that “more,” if MacIntyre—who grew up listening to his uncle’s classic-rock cover band on the Isle of Mull—is to be believed, is power pop. Deliriously powerful power pop that’ll grow on you like peat moss—which means that if you listen to MHS’s debut album, Loss, long enough, you might just become your own best home-energy source. With a voice that is all yearning, a knack for writing hooks big enough to catch the Loch Ness Monster, and an unabashed love for big, glorious crescendos, MacIntyre may just be the United Kingdom’s cutest commodity since the Mini Cooper. From the transcendental beauty of “Barcode Bypass”—undoubtedly the greatest song about a corner-shop proprietor having a heart attack while walking his dogs ever written—to the propulsive ecstasy of “Animal Cannabus,” MHS handily beats Matthew Sweet at his own game, blithely pissing in the Fountains of Wayne in the process. As if that ain’t good enough by itself, the quirky, herky-jerky chorus of album opener “Public Service Announcer” (“Can anyone tell/If my stereo’s on?”) also establishes MacIntyre’s ability to write beautiful pop with a saving touch of strangeness in it, and “I Tried” sounds like what Oasis might sound like if it didn’t sound like the Beatles. Unlike the Brothers Gallagher, however, MacIntyre rarely gives in to the temptation to toss off facile (if brilliant) imitations. Only on the annoyingly bouncy “Watching Xanadu” and the too-chipper-for-its-own-good “This Is Not Who We Were” does the Man From Mull surrender to his inner Brill Building, which is to say that both are so ur-power-pop you’ll swear you’ve heard them someplace—or, more likely, too many places—before. Despite these shortcomings, though, Loss is as nifty a set of tunes as you’re likely to get out of Great Britain this whole goddamn year. —Michael Little